Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Vital Statistics

Can I just say my stats class is going to kill me?! It is nearly 3:30 a.m. and I am sitting here waiting for my take-home quiz to print so that I can go to bed. How many hours does a person have to invest to understand the stuff?! I sit in class for 6 hours a week (and actually pay attention and take good notes for the entire 6 hours), do about 3 hours of homework for each class, plus 2 hours of work with a homework group, plus the additional hours on the quizzes. AGGGH! This one, 3-credit class has become the equivalent of about a part-time job! Literally!

What is SO incredibly frustrating is that I am starting to "feel" how the numbers work together. I can see that the equations are all related and that they build on one another (which tells me that they are just describing different facets of what the numbers are doing/representing--like saying the same thing in different words so that you end up emphasizing different aspects of the thing). Unfortunately, the class moves at close to the speed of light (gotta cover everything, after all) and the relationships among the concepts are NOT clear.

The instructor does a great job given the institutional constraints on the course/her teaching. It is just so frustrating to realize that I am actually at a point in my relationship with mathematics where I could actually understand and BENEFIT from it, and can't because something gets lost in the translation between the words and the symbols. I soooo need a good translator. I may just sit down and make myself (and all the other poor students who have to endure this torture that SHOULDN'T be torturous) a chart . . . if I can ever get enough sleep to think through it clearly.

As I hear parents say, "Use your words" to their 2-year-olds, I think of mathematicians who haven't yet learned to use THEIR words to explain their symbols to me.

I did have to chuckle when I realized that the symbols really are all Greek (at least, so far)! The phrase, "It's all Greek to me" has a totally new meaning to me now! I'll have to ask my colleague from Greece tomorrow if the symbols mean something else in Greek, or if math is just naturally easy for him!


46137 said...

Hang in there!! I took stats in the summer and felt the exact same way. Do you have the cartoon guide to statistics? I found it helpful for big picture stuff. You can do it!!!

46137 said...
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N. E. Miller said...

On my undergraduate transcript, there is a big 0.0 next to the statistics course I took. Since I'm capable of operating SPSS and other statistical programs, I figured learning the underlying principles wasn't truly worth my time!!! ;)

Cherice said...

It is comforting to know, on the one hand, that others have had a similar experience with stats. However, on the other, I find myself filled with frustration that SO many people have suffered the exact same fate! It doesn't have to be this way. It shouldn't be this way. If so many others have already suffered this, why IS it still this way?! This is NOT learning and given all the "research" people supposedly use these stats to accomplish, one would think institutions of higher education would have figured that out by now!

Cherice said...

As to the cartoon guide . . . I almost picked it up in the bookstore the other day. Given that I like to make sense of things visually, (not to mention your hearty endorsement), it looks like it is time to go buy it!

Cherice said...

Ahhhh! Someone who knows how to use SPSS! Now I know where to go with my questions! :-)